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Top 10 Favorite Books Before Age 18 
2nd-Apr-2010 01:02 pm
bette davis
We all have to pay the bills. And to pay mine, I currently work as a residential counselor in a school for teenage girls with behavioral disorders. It’s a tough job for many reasons, but one of my biggest pet peeves about it has nothing to do with the work. As you might imagine if you now work, or have worked with this age group, I spend a lot of my time engulfed by Twilight posters, Edward vs. Jacob mania, and obsessive viewing of both movies (with lots of squealing in the Jacob taking off his entire shirt to wipe away Bella’s small trickle of forehead blood scene).

I am glad that a series like this has gotten kids who wouldn’t normally pick up a book to do just that, but at the same time these are often the only books they read. I think back to myself at that age and I can admit that much of what I read was equally trashy, but I was reading a wider variety of books as well. What does a generation of young women raised with Bella as their heroine look like? Are teenage boys reading the series?? If not, are they reading anything?

This post is not about whether or not we love/liked/hate/or have always hated Twilight. This post is a desperate call back to an earlier era. The days where we were all just budding young readers ourselves, searching our classroom shelves for another book our teacher would let us borrow, staying up way past bed time with a flashlight under the blankets, spending summer vacations reading everything and anything from the public library.

Before the fan phenomes of Harry Potter and Twilight, what were the great books of your childhood and adolescence? I propose a Top 10 list of your favorite books before age 18. Not books assigned by school, but those treasured books you got lost inside of. The books that lit your interest in reading and started the love affair you now continue as an adult. If you must include these series I can accept that, but only list them once. For example: #1. The Harry Potter Series, NOT: #1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, #2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, etc. I’m really curious to see what you all will include, I wonder how many of our lists will be similar, and how much they will vary. Also I'm not trying to exclude those members who may be around 18 themselves, or younger. I want to know what you're reading too!

Let’s get started.
Comments 
2nd-Apr-2010 05:18 pm (UTC)
1. Calico Captive, Elizabeth George Speare
2. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
3. Summer Sisters, Judy Blume
4. The Harry Potter Series, J.K.Rowling
5. His Dark Materials Trilogy, Philip Pullman
6. A Ring of Endless Light, Madeleine L'Engle
7. Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
8. Violet and Claire, Francesca Lia Block
9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith

I'm sure I'm forgetting some important ones, but those are the first that came to my mind today.

Cheers.
2nd-Apr-2010 05:24 pm (UTC)
Dear God I forgot anything and everything by Roald Dahl!
2nd-Apr-2010 05:27 pm (UTC)
Lovely idea for a meme! I'm going to try to limit mine to English books (or books that have been translated into English anyway), as it's always more fun whe others actually know the books :D

This is in no particular order though. A Top 10 I can make - not a top 10 graded ;) And for the reference, I turned 18 in 1997.
1) Anne of Green Gables Series - L.M. Montgomery
2) The Blue Castle - L.M. Montgomery
3) Alanna Quartet - Tamora Pierce
4) Harper's Hall Trilogy - Anne McCaffrey
5) Clan of the Cave Bears - Jean M. Auel
6) Narnia - C.S. Lewis
7) Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
8) Rocco - Sherryl Jordan
9) Little House Series - Laura Ingalls Wilder
10) If Tomorrow Comes - Sidney Sheldon
2nd-Apr-2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
1."The Three Musketeers" & "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas
2. Montgomery's Anne Shirley and Emily series
3. "The Invisible Man" and other SF works by H.G. Wells
4. Short stories by O Henry
5. Ernest Thompson Seton's stories about animals
6. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series
7. "Dracula" by Bram Stoker
8. "The Thorn Birds" by Colleen McCullough
9. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe
10. Jack London - "The Call of the Wild", "White Fang" about animals and short stories

The following was read after 18, but would suit both me at that age and many of those girls:

Terry Pratchett's books, especially ones about witches ("Witches Abroad", "Lords and Ladies", "Maskerade" [parody of The Phantom of the Opera] etc.) and about Night Watch (Thud! - my favorite)

I would start them on "CARPE JUGULUM" a funny book ABOUT VAMPIRES (and witches trying to fight them)!!!

"The Princess Bride" by William Goldman (!!!)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
Roald Dahl's short stories
3rd-Apr-2010 06:35 am (UTC)
I forgot Princess Bride!!! Yes. This!
2nd-Apr-2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
I'm 22 now, so 18 wasn't that long ago for me, and I still read a lot of those books. So, in no particular order:

1) The Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce
2) Animorphs by K.A. Applegate
3) Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
4) The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
5) The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner. (I'm lumping them all together because they're technically a series, but the series has no name.)
6) The Protector of the Small Quartet by Tamora Pierce (Pretty much anything by her is good.)
7) The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
8) Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
9) A Wrinkle in Time series by Madeline L'Engle
10) Anything by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
11) Anything by Annette Curtis Klause

Another series I'd recommend that I didn't discover until last year would be the Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Stephanie Meyer is quoted on the front of the books, so that could be a selling point for some of your students. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick is a new one that I enjoyed.

I've also heard good things about The Hunger Games, although I've never read those myself.

The Percy Jackson books might be good as well, but again, I've never read them, but a movie just came out. They're also making a movie of The Socerer's Apprentice, which I also haven't read. Usually the fact that it's a movie or going to be a movie can be a good selling point.

I asked a friend who works at B&N in their children's/YA department and she recommends the Vampire Academy Books and the Kissed by and Angel trilogy.

I'm in grad school for library studies right now, and if you'd like me to, I can email one of my teachers and ask him. He specializes in children's and YA lit.

I'll comment again if I come up with more :)
2nd-Apr-2010 06:35 pm (UTC)
ANIMORPHS. YES.
2nd-Apr-2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
Weren't they just MADE OF AWESOME?
2nd-Apr-2010 09:34 pm (UTC)
YES.
3rd-Apr-2010 06:34 am (UTC)
What a thoughtful comment. Thanks for all your suggestions! I'm actually only 23 myself, so I guess we're all not that far from 18. I am currently on the third book in the Percy Jackson series and getting a lot of guilty pleasure out of it. Its not the best written thing I've ever read, but if you liked Harry Potter and dug your 7th grade Social Studies unit on Greek Mythology...chances are it might spark your interest.

I posted this out of a general curiosity about what YA lit our generation might possibly compare to the Twilight phenomenon. I also just love YA lit and think its great that others out there do too.

Since you are in library studies, I wonder if you have read The Library at Night, by Alberto Manguel? I'm reading it right now and it is wonderful.

What would you ask your professor? Would you ask him what his top 10 might be? That would be interesting!!!
7th-Apr-2010 01:37 am (UTC)
My professor didn't list his top 10, but here's what he did say:


Teenage boys ARE reading Twilight because they want to get the girl. If they read Twilight, feign interest and can learn how to act like Edward or Jacob then they believe they have a better chance at getting the girl.

As far as what are they reading? The S. Collins' Huger Games series is part of what they are reading. They are also reading comics and manga. The younger teen and tween guys are reading the Gary Paulsen books as well as the Alex Ryder series (think James Bond for teens). You also have the set that is way into fantasy and sci-fi reading the Merlin series and anything they can find similar to Harry Potter.

As for what books intrigued me as a teen . . . YA fiction hadn't really hit the shelves of my rural school library in Kentucky when I was a teen. The public library was a joke and was only opened one day a week. There were few YA books - to do remember always waiting for the next Christopher Pike book to come out but other than that - there was nothing. I read adult horror books when I was high school - V.C. Andrews, Ramsey Campbell, and stuff like that.
8th-Apr-2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and thanks to your prof. So interesting!
My town in rural NH had a very small library too, but I was just lucky enough to befriend the librarian who would literally put books into my hands. Librarians are lovely people. I bet you will make a good one!
3rd-Apr-2010 08:28 pm (UTC)
I forgot about the McKinley books! I loved The Blue Sword and the others in the series. And her book Beauty is still one of my all-time favorites.
2nd-Apr-2010 06:42 pm (UTC)
I'm 20, so I'm still basically reading the same stuff I read when I was 18. Here are the lists of what I read when I was 17/18 and 18/19. Also, here's a list of what I read now.

Going back in time, I read a lot of Animorphs from about age nine to age thirteen, took a hiatus, and then came back to them around age sixteen or seventeen. I also read a lot of Tamora Pierce, Philip Pullman, Garth Nix, and Diane Duane.

Some series I'd recommend right now are the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot and Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series. Also, The Hunger Games series is quite good. My YA librarian says The Hunger Games is the best book she read in 2009.
2nd-Apr-2010 06:48 pm (UTC)
I'd forgotten about Garth Nix. I picked him up in junior high. Seconding his name.
3rd-Apr-2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
At age 21, I feel the same way that you do. My teen years ended so recently! It's a bit strange to look back and realize that I still enjoy many of the same novels.
2nd-Apr-2010 07:25 pm (UTC)
I'm 17. I could never, ever choose THE ten books, but here are ten books I do love at the moment. For a better overview, here on Goodreads you can see my most loved books. I am Dutch, but I decided to exclude the untranslated Dutch work I'd otherwise would have put on this list)

- The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
- Rembrandt's Whore by Sylvia Matton
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
- Siddharta by Hermann Hesse
- The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig
- La Virevolte by Nancy Huston (this is the English title as well)

However, I'd say that my taste in books is not very common for most of the 17 year olds, so I'm not sure how useful this list is for you.
3rd-Apr-2010 06:45 am (UTC)
I don't care about it being "useful" exactly, I just find it interesting to see what everyone else has read. : ) I have never heard of Rembrandt's Whore, but the title so intrigues me that I'm definitely looking it up. Thanks!
3rd-Apr-2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
Rembrandt's Whore is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. The first 100 pages are much stronger than the second 100, but it's still a wonderful, amazing read.
2nd-Apr-2010 07:28 pm (UTC)
1. The Harry Potter Series (I had too.)
2. The Phantom Tollbooth
3. The Ann of Green Gables series
4. Madeline E'Lengle
5. Little House series
6. Little Women and anything by Alcott
7. For something more modern...anything by John Green (it's less fantasy and more real, but just as engaging)
8. Tamora Pierce - Circle of Magic
9. Meg Cabot
10. Narnia

I read the Hunger Games and actually didn't really like it, I don't know why. In that sci-fi vein though...
Ender's Game series so much
And The City of Ember
And the Among the Hidden Series or anything by Haddix, sorry that's more than 10.
2nd-Apr-2010 09:34 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah, I forgot about Margaret Peterson Haddix. She's great.
3rd-Apr-2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
Yes she is.
3rd-Apr-2010 06:40 am (UTC)
I heard they were making a movie of The City of Ember. Have you heard that? I guess I'll have to pick that up now too...

Also I really should have listed Madeline L'Engle the way you did, I spent so much time with her books it was hard to pick just one.
3rd-Apr-2010 02:25 pm (UTC)
Yes I did, I don't know any details though. I liked it a lot when I read it I haven't kept up with sequels or anything though.

Haha, yes there are so many and they are all soo good.
2nd-Apr-2010 08:15 pm (UTC)
1. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
2. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
3. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
4. Anything by Dianna Wynne Jones
5. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
6. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
7. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
9. The Diary of Anne Frank
10. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Speak is my all-time favorite book, and I always recommend that and Anderson's other books for teens. Interview with the Vampire could be a good alternative for Twilight fans to get them to branch out a little. I also read a lot of Stephen King, which made me feel so adult, as did the Anne Rice.
3rd-Apr-2010 06:48 am (UTC)
# 7 and # 10, yes yes yes!

I took a directing class in college and one of my peers did a short theater piece based on Speak. It was very moving and inspired me to read the book. I love the art teacher in the novel and the concept of drawing the tree. Very moving.
2nd-Apr-2010 11:22 pm (UTC)
Kind of difficult, as I was reading normal-people-books by age 14 or so, so my taste between middle school and high school was vastly different. I'll break it up by age instead of favoritism, and I'm doing 12 (deal with it):

Middle school (roughly in chronological order):
1. Sally Lockhart books - Philip Pullman
2. Tripods series - forget the author
3. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
4. Inherit the Wind - forget this too
5. Killer Angels - Michael Shaara (and a lot of nonfiction Civil War history, because I was a loser like that)

Both
6. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (liked it in middle school, rediscovered and loved it in high school)
7. Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis (didn't like it in middle school, rediscovered and loved it in high school)

High School
8. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
9. Nausea and No Exit - Jean-Paul Sartre
10. Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling
11. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses - James Joyce
12. The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner

I read a LOT of other stuff in middle school that I barely remember (The Blue Sword, the Merlin books, Dealing With Dragons) and also only discovered the Sabriel etc books in college, though I would have liked it earlier, I think. I also fell in love with poetry in high school (especially Keats and Eliot) but I left those out.
3rd-Apr-2010 06:41 am (UTC)
Haha, I love how you said "(deal with it)". I always have a hard time sticking to the format of lists like this. Classic.
3rd-Apr-2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
Ooooh yes Sally Lockhart! :)
3rd-Apr-2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
Inherit the Wind! How could I possibly forget that one?
3rd-Apr-2010 07:47 am (UTC)
Before age 18 is quite a broad age range. I mean, by 15 I was reading the same sort of grown-up books I read now at the ripe old age of nearly 50. So I'm going to answer this question by giving you my 10 favourite books from my actual childhood, not from my young adulthood, if that's OK:

1. The Borrowers (entire series) by Mary Norton
2. Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
3. The Paddington Bear series by Michael Bond
4. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
5. The Doctor Dolittle books by Hugh Lofting
6. The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon
7. The Little Grey Rabbit series by Alison Uttley
8. Worzel Gummidge by Barbara Euphan Todd
9. Bert Fegg's Nasty Book for Boys and Girls by Terry Jones
10. King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry

Coming up with only 10 meant leaving off some other favourites, such as Madeleine l'Engle, Noel Streatfeild and Rumer Godden ... but I'll abide by the rules! ;)
3rd-Apr-2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
1. 'The Princess Bride' by Goldman
2. 'Lord Vishnu's Love Handles' by Will Clarke
3. 'Born Confused' by Tanuja Desai Hidier
4. 'Alphabet of Thorn' by Patricia McKillip
5. 'Sabriel' by Garth Nix
6. 'The Golden Apples of the Sun' by Bradbury
7. 'Mythology' by Edith Hamilton
8. 'Me Talk Pretty One Day' by David Sedaris
9. 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams
10. 'We' by Yevgeny Zamyatin

'Born Confused' and 'Sabriel' and probably my two absolute favorites from when I was a teen. I used to reread them every month.
3rd-Apr-2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, goodness! Let me think back here (a fair number of years!). I remember stealing books from my mother's shelf, simply because I had to have something to read, so it may be a list of odd bedfellows. ;D

In no particular order:

1. Little House series, Laura Ingalls Wilder
2. Anne series, L.M. Montgomery
3. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough
4. Narnia series, C.S. Lewis
5. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
6. Little Women and Little Men, Louisa May Alcott
7. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll
8. The Black Stallion series, Walter Farley
9. Xanth series, Piers Anthony
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

Honorable Mentions (simply because they're over ten!): Shannara trilogy, Terry Brooks and Dancing Gods series, Jack L. Chalker

I know I'm forgetting a lot, but these are the ones that spring to mind, and that I still tend to read from time to time (except the Farley books, and somehow I think I should remedy that).

Edited at 2010-04-03 08:30 pm (UTC)
4th-Apr-2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
Turned 18 in 2002, if that helps. Books are listed in recall order:

1. Thule trilogy, Thea Beckman. (Dutch YA author; series best described as feminist ecotopian sci-fi.)
2. Little Women series, Louisa May Alcott.
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling.
4. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle.
5. A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Madeleine L'Engle. (4 and 5 are books one and two of the same series, but I didn't like the second as much, and haven't read all of them, so felt I should list them individually.)
6. Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek, Thea Beckman. ('Crusade in denim jeans'; historical fiction involving time travel to get there.)
7. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen.
8. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare.
9. The Eagle of the Ninth, Rosemary Sutcliff.
10. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein.
5th-Apr-2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
My top 10 would be more like a top 100. But here are the 10 that come to mind right away (in no particular order).

Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy
Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
The Last Silk Dress by Ann Rinaldi
The Anne of Green Gable series (and the Emily of New Moon series) by L.M. Montgomery
Little Women series (and The Old-Fashioned Girl) by Louisa May Alcott
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Burning Up by Caroline B. Cooney
Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

I also went through two phases. In the first, I only read the diaries of children and teenagers who lived through World War II (think Anne Frank, but diaries of kids from several different countries, cities, social statuses, etc.).

In the second, for a limited time, I caved to the pressures of my peers and read only Lurlene McDaniel books. I try to forget the second phase ever happened, but that's beside the point.
8th-Apr-2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
I love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as well and also have used the same icon as you. : )
4th-May-2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
1. Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh
2. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
3. The Secret Garden - France Hodgson Burnett
4. The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster
5. The Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling
6. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
7. Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
8. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
9. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
10. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L' Engle

I admit that The Babysitter's Club and the Sweet Valley High series were a very very big part of my childhood. It was those books that first brought me to the library and when those couldn't sate me, I started expanding my reading horizons.

I also love love love the His Dark Materials trilogy but I didn't read those until after I was 18 so I didn't count them.